Independence Day is a good time to pay attention to the ravages of dependence right here in our own backyards. Addiction blinds us and binds us to dead ends. It is the greatest public-health problem facing America today, though COVID-19 understandably pushed it off the front page.

Addiction to tobacco kills 8,000 Washingtonians each year. Opioids kill approximately 700 Washingtonians annually. Alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States behind poor diet and physical inactivity. Washington has the eighth highest rate of DUIs in the nation.

We pride ourselves on having personal freedoms and liberty, then kill or maim ourselves and destroy our families with addictive behavior and excesses. There are hundreds of programs available to help us be free of these self-destructive behaviors.

We can have the freedom to be authentic; to be loving, kind and of service to others; to have an honest conversation from the heart instead of from a rigid and cluttered mind. The freedom to be responsible for one’s life, and for our families, is a freedom we must not miss.

Patrick Godfrey, Federal Way